Jacksonville District is responsible for 17 deep draft and 20 shallow draft harbors in Florida and the Caribbean – and it seems like teams here made progress on nearly all of them during 2014!
A large portion of the District’s mission today is to help ensure Florida ports remain vital in the global marketplace.
President Barack Obama’s “We Can’t Wait” initiative expedited nationally significant infrastructure projects, including modernizing and expanding major ports in the United States. As a national priority, the district was challenged to reduce study schedules, using all the tools available to determine what channel improvements were needed and whether or not the nation should invest to further economic growth. Jacksonville District is meeting this challenge with great success.
Several port studies received unanimous approval from the Civil Works Review Board (CWRB), Chiefs Reports, and were also authorized in 2014.
After an intense study period, the Jacksonville Harbor Channel Deepening project was authorized by Congress in June, and engineering and design work began on the project. The port’s Mile Point project design work and collaboration continued through 2014 and it also received congressional authorization in June. This project will improve navigation safety by reducing the impacts of ebb tide crosscurrents at the confluence of the St. Johns River with the Intracoastal Waterway. Its construction must be completed before the deepening begins. Teams also finished raising the dike on the Bartram Island disposal area in preparation for future dredging.
Both Canaveral Harbor and Lake Worth Inlet projects also received congressional authorization in the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014. The Canaveral Harbor project will deepen the harbor to improve navigation safety and allow passage of larger ships. The Lake Worth Inlet project will widen and deepen inlet to increase overall port efficiency and safety, and generate transportation cost savings. The Lake Worth Inlet team continues work on an economic assessment prior to beginning engineering and design.
The Manatee and Tampa harbor teams continued work on their general reevaluation reports, and they raised the dike on a Tampa harbor disposal area, too. The Tampa Harbor team also beneficially used maintenance dredging to place sand and install geotextile tubes on Egmont Key, which will help stabilize the beach and protect historic structures. The maintenance is removing shoaled sand along 17 miles of channel to improve the harbor’s navigation safety.
The Port Everglades project team, with a tremendous amount of work conducted with the National Marine Fisheries Service on the environmental mitigation for corals, is preparing to present their study findings to the CWRB in February 2015.
In Miami, the harbor deepening project progressed in the outer channel and the overall project is at about 60 percent complete. Miami Harbor is the first 50-foot project in South Atlantic Division history. In addition to deepening and widening the outer channel, work also included the successful construction of artificial reefs and relocation of corals. Construction continues on the seagrass mitigation site and dredging starts in the inner channel in 2015. Full project completion is scheduled for July 2015.
These port project teams tackled new processes and overcame barriers to meet critical milestones, and they continue to persevere on a multitude of projects. While working on port projects, they were also making plans and preparing designs to clear navigation channels and get critical sand on heavily eroded federal beaches. Corps surveyors and others were working nearly everywhere on Florida’s coastline!